Security breached as party cadre run amok
It was a free-for-all at Madurai airport, which is a high security zone, on Wednesday when hundreds of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) cadre swarmed the premises to give a rousing reception to Karunanidhi’s younger son and party treasurer M.K.Stalin.
Over 250 cars and an equal number of two-wheelers and auto-rickshaws, carrying DMK flags and posters, zoomed into the airport between 12 noon and 1 pm, and most of them were allowed to enter without parking tickets costing Rs.40 each.
When questioned, Akheel Kumar, one of the four persons manning the ticket counter, said: "Do you want us to get beaten up? How can we dare to ask these people to purchase tickets? We are just four but they are more than four hundred, Sir."
Interrupting the conversation, M.Marikumar, a taxi driver who had come to drop a passenger bound for Chennai, said: "These people (Airports Authority of India contractors) will fleece money only from poor people like me. They cannot extract a single paise from others."
The DMK workers’ vehicles were parked all over the compound with scant regard for no-parking and no-entry boards. The scene near the new terminal building resembled a carnival with hundreds of the party faithful dancing, whistling and squealing to the beats of drums and cymbals.
Four different troupes had been engaged to perform Karagattam and Oyilaattam, in addition to a percussion group from Kerala performing the Chenda Melam. The Karagattam troupe from Arasampatti near Thirupuvanam in Sivaganga district featured 10 schoolgirls.
"We are here because our school is closed for the summer vacation. We love to dance and it is our favourite pastime," one of the girls said.
Three schoolboys from another troupe were reluctant to talk about themselves.
A small posse of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel and local policemen struggled to control the party cadre as they scrambled over the railings, toppled metal barricades near the ‘arrival gate,’ and stomped on the manicured lawn in the landscaped area.
Seeing the swarm of partymen arrive, airport officials temporarily closed the entry ticket counter. Only select party leaders who had purchased tickets in advance were let inside to receive Mr.Stalin.
Six CISF personnel, posted at the visitors’ entry gate, yielded to a request by former Minister K.K.S.S.R.Ramachandran to allow one of his friends inside without an entry ticket.
A passenger who landed at the airport from Chennai aboard a Jet Airways flight at around 1pm, 20 minutes before the arrival of Mr.Stalin by Air India, said: "I had a tough time getting out of the terminal as these people had virtually blocked the exit. I had to squeeze my way past the crowd. My friend called me just now to say that he was not able to bring the car in because vehicles were parked all over the place. I have no choice but to go in search of the car. I wonder whether I am in an airport or a carnival ground."